I met Morgan in 2014 in Kampala, Uganda, and we connected quite fast. I was very inspired by his bright thinking, soft and huge heart, and the most peaceful energy that he was generating around him. He was one of the first Ugandans who got me inspired into one day making a project where I could share LGBT stories. Here’s unique and special Morgan’s story:
I was born in 1979 on the 15th of August in Entebbe hospital. My mom Josephine worked in the same hospital where I was born, now retired, and my dad was working at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, also in Entebbe. I have lots of siblings from my dad’s many wives, who was a Muslim and who also inherited some land and wealth as a decsendent of Ganda chief.
Soon my mom separated with my dad and we moved to stay with her, so my young life was spent with my mom until adulthood. It wasn’t a rich childhood but fairly comfortable. My mom has been hardworking, tenacious woman. I owe my life to this generous woman, nothing compares to a mother’s unconditional love. I am not that educated but I am learned, self taught, my childhood was a happy childhood and I have no regrets about it all.
Entebbe is a small community, where everybody knows each other, and that is where my story begins. I think I am a natural born leader and that’s why politics was or is second nature to me and that’s why I am telling my story.
I think I am bisexual, though my love tends to pull more to masculine love than feminine love. I am monogamous, maybe because I am reserved and principled, but I love tenderly and perpetually. Since my teenage years, I think I knew I was attracted to boys, though I’ve only got to experience real gay love later in life. Growing up I thought I was abnormal until I discovered that there were lots of folks like me. I prayed hard to stop the feelings of same sex attraction, but the prayers were never answered.
Since the elective politics is my passion, I was a local council youth leader in my area, until one scenario, which changed my life. The day started normal sometime in September, 2009. I don’t remember the exact date, but I recall everything vividly as if it happened today. I had an argument with my neighbor, who initially wanted me to connect her house to the power supply of the salon where I worked. When I said it’s both illegal and risky, she didn’t want to listen, and the worst case scenario was her using my place as a garden to harvest souls to her evangelical fanaticism. What started as a hunt for souls, turned into a gay bash, that I am a bad influence to the young people who voted for me, since I was gay.
I played things cool, but the very next day after the harassment, she accused me of sodomizing her son. I thought it was a joke, because it was inconceivable. I felt sorry for this innocent kid who was in the middle of grownup’s argument. I couldn’t stand this nonsense, I closed my barber shop and went home. The shop where she accused me of sodomizing her son is like 10 feet from the road, and I remember very well that there were workmen tarmacking this road who were around, and no one believed that a kid can be sodomized, it was all unbelievable.
The very next day I was picked from home and taken to the police station, where I spent roughly 9 days, until I was proceeded in Court and charged with “having carnal knowledge against the order of nature”. Even the name of the crime is debatable, because police kept me arrested more than the legal time, trying to get money from my family. I told them they are not going to get the money, and I told them to charge me if they’re sure of the charge.
I felt sorry for the innocent kid, because he was paraded all over the Ugandan media that he’d been sodomized, yet none of this was true, only his mom thinking this would help her get money. I read about a charity fund started by a veteran journalist in Toronto, to take care of the boy and seek medical attention for him. Imagine a kid going through all this politicking and bullying by fellow kids, who wanted to see if he was indeed sodomized. In the struggle to soil me, the poor woman ended up soiling her son with a fake charge and making him telling lies. She didn’t get any money in the end.
I was bailed after being presented in court, but sadly I was re-arrested before I could report to court for my bail extension. There were people who petitioned Parliament, and the speaker ordered the IGP to re-arrest me, and my charge was amended to aggravated defilement from the lesser charge of sodomy, which is only triable by the high court. I was remanded to Kigo prison and ooooh my God, this was the saddest day of my life.
Lots of horrible illegal things happened to me while I was in police cells. I don’t know if police officers in other parts of the world are same beastly as Ugandan policemen, but the days spent at the police station were the worst. The ones here are goons, they don’t only torture inmates, but steal everything they find on them and they don’t return their items even thou they receipt each item they find. Shameless corrupted beasts.
I cried the day I went to the prison, I just couldn’t believe all this was real. Actually, I am the first person in known family history to have gone to prison. It was hard on my family, they thought I would die in prison, because I am someone who falls sick often and is sensitive to infections. Thankfully, I never got sick the 6 months I spent on remand. I was kind of celebrity in prison, because the inmates were reading and watching my case on TV almost daily, so they anticipated a rabid homosexual in prison.
What they read and saw from a journalistic perspective wasn’t the person they saw when I came to prison. In all honesty they were shocked. What started as a poor woman’s case was hijacked by politicians, who wanted to gain political capital on my case, and see me out of society perpetually. I remember the state attorney telling my family that they can’t do anything coz the mayor of Entebbe had explicitly told them to keep me locked until 2020. Fortunately he didn’t win the election in 2016.
I don’t count myself a very strong political force, but I am a grass root politician and I am honest, the young people loved me irrespective of my sexuality. I had never publicly come out but it was like an open secret. People love me for my tenacity, honesty and I was part of a close knit community.
I made some good friends in prison, who helped me get used to prison life. In fact, the best buddies I met, was in prison. Sadly I tried to get in touch with some of them after, but failed. I still miss some of them, especially Denis. He was someone who made my food, shaved my hair and did my laundry, and I helped him in his studies. He was enrolled in the prison school, as he did his prison sentence of manslaughter.
I finally got bailed 6 months after from Nakawa, thanks to my lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, CSL Onyango owori, the team at HRAPF, SMUG, and the late Kato Kisuule. He was as tenacious as an African wild dog, who sadly died after I came out of prison. But most of all l couldn’t make it if it wasn’t my family. I’m truly indebted to them always. It’s not easy for LGBTQ people especially if their families don’t support them. I am lucky they never forsook me because of my sexuality.
Prison was an experience. I made some very good friends, and I lost some from outside who couldn’t associate with a person accused of sodomizing a kid. Well it’s a part of life, it sieves out the chaff and keeps the best. I am ok with that, though at first it hurt like hell. Prior to my incarceration, I thought I was the only person who was attracted to men, but I got surprised when some inmates accosted me. I was shocked because I just couldn’t believe someone would want to date men in prison. Some of the inmates came out to me and it helped me grow as a person in knowing we never stand alone.
I changed some things in prison, because I couldn’t stand the nonsensical rules of prison life and I am glad the Officer in charge of the prison was level headed. I asked him to buy hair clippers for the prison barber shop which started because I couldn’t accept being shaved with a razor. My ward won the most hygienic ward that year and I also had to lobby for prisoners to be availed with warm blankets (2 per inmate) to stop inmates clinging onto each other for warmth coz they had nothing to sleep on, and prison authorities were accusing them of homosexuality, yet it was the cold that forced them to sleep closely for warmth. The Officer in charge relented to my request and the blankets were availed. I also asked for a weekly supply of laundry soap to avert infections that come from filthy stuff. I think this arrangement is still on after I left.
The hardest thing as an inmate was the rule of being identified by a prison number, and not the name. Each time the wardens asked my name, I would say my name to their bewilderment and irritation. I was supposed to say KGR900/009, my prison number, which failed to register in my mind. It took me time to accept being just a number for I am a very proud person lol.
Life after prison was the hardest. Questioning by members of the public, some insistences of harassment, not working because I closed my barbershop, having to depend on others and living with my dad and step mom. Eventually I left to South Sudan to work, which is a place of contrasts, really. My case has never been dispensed off from 2009 to date, court clerks keep saying the file is missing. Talk about a miscarriage of justice, this is it. I am still expected to report to court all this time which my lawyer does.
I worked in south Sudan from 2012 to 2015. When I came out of prison, judge advised me to change location to avoid problems with my complainant (accuser). I fell in love in Juba, the South Sudan capital. It was awesome, in spite of what is known about South Sudan. It is a country of people who are so generous and loving, oooh I loved this place and its people .I still miss it sorely.
I also met Oliver there. I love challenges, I don’t like love that comes easily. To love you deeply I pit my brain against yours and fight for you. I never quit if I want something, I fight for it. Silver was this trophy, he was every girls dream, but I’ve learnt in life that human sexuality is fluid if circumstances allow. Here was a boy who I’d call a player, proud like me, classy and reserved, but in the end he yielded. It was like I had won a lottery.
It’s weird, just imagine falling in love with someone who spoke classical Arabic and I only spoke fluent English. But love is love, he was as crazy about me as I was about him. I taught him English and I learnt my little Arabic from him, one thing that amuses and amazes me is the issue of gay love, it cuts across all genre of society, and crosses all barriers. Imagine trying to explain to someone a love that is both illegal and uncommon!? But he knew it, because there were times when our souls did the talking and it happened. He still wants me to go back and I can’t, as at least for now, because the economy is in shambles and peace is as fragile as eggs.
Regardless of all the homophobia and prejudice in Uganda, people can be tolerant depending on how you hold yourself as a person. Since I came back I’ve been working here. It has not been easy, but I am still standing. Life has to go on. My business has been able to thrive because I am a workaholic, and most of my clients are members of the LGBTQ family, because they tend to mind more about looks than the average person.
I still yearn for justice. I’ve learnt lessons as a human, it’s not easy being gay and demanding justice, and experiencing the ignorance of society to people of a different sexuality. It doesn’t matter what your sexuality is, society is even biased towards heterosexuals so it all depends on an individual and how they relate to society. Its all about creating a niche for yourself where you are comfortable. Life only gives us the negatives and it’s up to me to create that positive space I so desire in a rough world.
I am so grateful to the souls that have walked this perilous journey with me. I can’t mention them all but I am truly indebted. To my loves, to the ones I lost, I see you in all the usual places in my mind. To my family, to my lawyers, you are a great team. To the haters and homophobes – well this is me, it’s what I am.
Hate is a poison, it consumes you. It hurts you more the hater than the person you hate, because in most cases they don’t know you hate them. I just pray society one day gets to judge us by the content of our character as humans, not the way we love.
To the countless victims of homophobic attacks and innocent souls disowned by their families and are now homeless, may God comfort you and grant you a special place in heaven. This is the little I’ve been able to jot down for I am still weathering heights, for as certain as the sun, I will overcome. God bless you all, thanks for having me.